I am a sinner. It takes only a second to say. A child can say it. We can all say it easily enough, given the circumstances. But merely saying it is never enough. We must understand what it means and we must mean what we say. Not only so, but we must grow in our understanding of what it means and in the extent to which we mean what we say. Can you say ‘I am a sinner’? If so, do you understand what that means? And do you really mean what you say? A sinner is someone who has broken the holy law of Almighty God. When I say I am a sinner, I mean I have broken the holy law of Almighty God. More,
- I mean I was born a sinner. From the earliest moment, I was a sinner. At conception I was a sinner. In the womb I was a sinner. All my life I have been a sinner. Not a day has passed that I have not sullied with sin. I have transgressed God’s holy law every day. God’s standards are clear. Yet every day, to a greater or lesser extent, I have fallen short of those standards. In me there is a rebellious spirit that, like a magnet, is instinctively drawn to do what is opposed to God’s will. It is in my nature to do what displeases him. Given the opportunity, left to myself, I will do what is against God. My instinct is to oppose God’s law, always to go in the opposite direction to that which he desires.
- I mean I am totally depraved by nature. No, I am not as bad as I could be. I could be worse. But there is not one part of my life, not one element in my make-up that is untainted by sin. Not only do I do what offends God. Not only do I say what repels him. Not only do I think in a way that at times is utterly repugnant to him. More, my body, my psyche, my genetic make-up, my habits, my thought processes, my instincts and reactions, my conscience, the very way my life is structured in some instances, are all fatally flawed. Worse, my prayers, my worship, my witness, my Christian service - this is all blemished too; spotted with sin. The best thing I have ever done is less than perfect, marred by sin. Even the admission ‘I am a sinner’ is not a flawless admission. It too smacks of pride, which is sin.
It is not easy to write such things honestly. It is not easy to honestly believe such things about oneself. It is devastating at times. But these are the facts. This is the reality. I am riddled with sin. Polluted. Contaminated. The damp of sin has got in everywhere. The rot of sin has gone right through. The dirt of sin is grained in.
- Perhaps most daunting is the fact that when I say I am a sinner I mean that I will continue to be a sinner for the rest of my natural life. While I remain on this earth, I will be a sinner. Not a day will go by without some sin to confess. No matter how sanctified I become, no matter how determined I am, I will still sin. I will hurt people and let them down. Relationships will be soured. Worse, I will displease God directly. I will offend him. My heavenly father’s law will be flouted. I will, as it were, add to the sufferings of Christ. I will grieve the Holy Spirit. Not a day will pass that is not marked by sinful attitudes, thoughts and actions.
It all sounds very dispiriting. Is it any wonder that people are slow to own up to being sinners? We inevitably shy away from such thoughts. ‘How do you live with yourself if you believe such things?’ asks the unbeliever. All believers know the answer. It is that ‘I am a sinner’ is only part of the story.
- By the grace of God, I am a forgiven sinner. Jesus has redeemed me by his death on the cross. Every sin I have ever committed, every sin I ever will commit, it has all been washed away through his precious blood. Not one of all the thousands of sins I am guilty of or will be guilty of, stands against me. Every sin has been covered over, blotted out, destroyed. Every last vestige of sin has been nailed to the cross of Christ. It is buried in Christ’s tomb and no longer has any power to condemn me.
- By the grace of God I am not what I was or what I could be. I am a sinner. But I am not the sinner I once was or that I might have become. God has not only forgiven me, he has also changed me. I have been delivered both from the guilt and the power of sin. I am no longer under its dominion. I still sin but not as I once did. I no longer have to sin in the same way as before. I am not perfect yet, but I am free from the rule of sin. It no longer dominates my life as it once did.
- One day I will be a sinner no longer. Very soon the day will dawn and before it is over I will have sinned for the very last time. When I die, my life of sin will be over. I will awake in the glory of a new world, a sinless world. I will look on the face of Christ. And from that moment I will never sin again. I will no longer be a sinner. Though at present I cannot go a day without sin, then I will be absolutely perfect forever and forever. I will be entirely free from sin. I will be indeed as pure as the driven snow.
Can you say ‘I am a sinner’? Do you understand what you say? Do you mean what you say? Are you growing in your understanding of what you say? Do you mean more and more what you say? And do you know the way out from sin? Are you trusting in Christ for full forgiveness? Are you looking forward to that day when you will sin no more?
First published in Grace Magazine
First published in Grace Magazine